Nov 13 2016

SBS Viceland: The first week

sbsvicelandThis Tuesday at 4.00pm, SBS launches its new channel, SBS Viceland.

The new channel, operating in a content licencing agreement with US-Canadian content provider VICE, replaces SBS2 but will maintain some SBS2 programming such as the daytime foreign-language news bulletins, A-League football and regular series The Feed, South Park, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and If You Are The One.

Here is the evening line-up of SBS Viceland for its first seven days:

Tuesday 15:
3:30 pm
Countdown to SBS VICELAND – Join SBS 2 as we put the finishing touches on our new channel and reboot as SBS VICELAND.

4:00 pm VICELAND PRESENTS: CUT OFF – Kicking off the launch of SBS VICELAND, Cut-Off is a powerful documentary that follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s exclusive visit to an isolated reserve, hosted by Aboriginal Canadian Sarah Carson-Fox. It’s about Indigenous youth facing each day with resilience, coping amid states of emergency over suicide epidemics, a lack of access to clean water and infrastructure breakdown. (From the US) (Documentary) (Class. tba) **Special Launch Premiere**

5:00 pm DEAD SET ON LIFE – The Life Of Matty – Dead Set on Life is a culinary travel show from the mind of Matty Matheson: a boisterously warm Canadian chef. From subs at gas stations to the most sought-after ingredients on the planet, Matty eats it all, with friends new and old. In this episode, Matty meets up with his old mentor Master Rang, dives deep into Winnipeg’s Filipino community, bags a moose, and visits one of Canada’s largest Aboriginal Pow Wows. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) (Class. tba)

5:30 pm CYBERWAR – Stuxnet The Digital Weapon – Tapping into the geopolitics of hacking and surveillance, Ben Makuch travels the world to meet with hackers, government officials, and dissidents to investigate the ecosystem of cyberwarfare. From the Sony hack to the Syrian Electronic Army, it’s happening all around us. Cyberwar hosted by Ben Makuch will investigate the most significant computer security issues of our time. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) G

6:05 pm States Of Undress – Congo – Former model Hailey Gates explores global fashion and issues the industry often ignores, showing us what the world wears and why. Despite western views of the Congo, the capital city Kinshasa is a runway for its citizens. But among myriad social issues, is fashion a means for progress, or just a distraction? (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) PG

7:00 pm VICE NEWS TONIGHT – VICE News Tonight brings an indispensable source of international news. Fast-tracked from the US, the newscast will break major stories with its unique brand of intrepid, investigative journalism and hard-hitting storytelling. (From the US)

7:30 pm The Feed – Marc Fennell, Patrick Abboud and Jeanette Francis discuss the latest in news, technology and culture, adding a fresh perspective on the latest local and international headlines. (An SBS Production)

8:00 pm Full Frontal With Samantha Bee – Comedian, writer, actress and political commentator Samantha Bee brings her sassy, smart and satirical point of view to a range of current and relevant issues in her very own late night comedy show. With her signature wit, Samantha tackles the taboo topics in a way that no one else can. (From the US) (Entertainment) M



8:30 pm GAYCATION – Japan – Actress Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) and her best friend, Ian Daniel, set off on a journey to explore LGBTQI cultures around the world. From Japan to Brazil, they discover the multiplicity of LGBTQI experiences through amazing people and their stories of struggle and triumph in this Emmy-nominated program. Ellen and Ian are in Japan, on a journey which includes getting friend-married at a Buddhist temple, working at a rent-a-friend agency and partying in the world’s smallest gay bar. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) M(S) **New Series Premiere**

9:20 pm F*CK THAT’S DELICIOUS – Multiculturalism At Its Best – This series follows rap’s greatest bon vivant, Action Bronson, as he travels the world meeting like-minded pleasureseekers and eating his fair share of everything. Action stops in DC, Atlanta, and Miami, eats in the hottest restaurant in the country, samples true southern BBQ, and learns how to make a new bay scallop and papaya dish. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) MA(D)

9:45 pm BLACK MARKET – New Jersey Drive – Actor Michael K Williams (The Wire, The Night Of) meets society’s outcasts in an unflinching look into the lives of the people who work in underworld economies. Drawing on his own past living on the fringes, Williams gains unprecedented access into these worlds, treading a dangerous line to bring us a glimpse of lifestyles that many of us rarely see. In Newark New Jersey, unemployment and lack of hope turns a tradition of joyriding stolen cars into an international criminal operation. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) MA(L)

10:15 pm NOISEY – Bompton With Kendrick Lamar – A first-hand look into the cultures and artists behind some of the world’s most compelling music, with each episode focusing on a different global scene. Zach Goldbaum heads to Compton (aka Bompton) to meet Kendrick Lamar and the friends he grew up with, many of whom are Piru gang members. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) M(D)

11:10 pm BALLS DEEP – Ramadan – There are over seven billion lives happening on earth right now, and most are pretty interesting. To find out what humanity’s deal is, Thomas Morton hangs out with different groups of people and gives their lives a try. In this episode, Thomas joins a Muslim family in Michigan to fast for the holy month of Ramadan. (S.1 Ep.2) (From the US) (Documentary Series) PG

11:40 pm KING OF THE ROAD – Highway To Hell: 10 Years On The Road – Thrasher Magazine’s legendary competition-come-road trip sees the world’s best skateboarding teams duke it out on the gnarliest stairs, ramps and slabs of skateable concrete. Three teams of pro skateboarders: Chocolate, Toy Machine, and Birdhouse compete in Thrasher’s infamous scavenger hunt, road tripping from Seattle to San Diego. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) (Class. tba)

Wednesday 16:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm The Feed
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Brooklyn Nine-Nine
8:30 pm Weediquette
9:20 pm Weediquette
10:15 pm Movie: Boy (From New Zealand)
11:50 pm VICE News Tonight



Thursday 17:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm The Feed
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm Dead Set On Life
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:35 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Adam Ruins Everything
8:30 pm Black Market
8:55 pm Black Market
9:25 pm Cyberwar
9:55 pm Cyberwar
10:20 pm Movie: Knights Of Badassdom (From the US)

Friday 18*
4:00 pm Daria
4:30 pm VICE News Tonight
5:00 pm The Feed
5:30 pm If You Are The One
6:30 pm Cyberwar
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm Hyundai A-League Western Sydney Wanderers V Melbourne City
10:15 pm VICE World Of Sports
10:45 pm Movie: Kung Fu Hustle (From China, in Cantonese and Mandarin)

(* NSW/ACT/VIC/TAS only. Other states vary to allow for live A-League coverage)

Saturday 19:
3:10 pm VICELAND Presents: Cut-Off (Rpt)
4:00 pm States Of Undress
4:55 pm Cyberwar
5:25 pm Cyberwar
5:55 pm If You Are The One
7:10 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:40 pm King Of The Road
8:30 pm Movie: Her (From the US) **Spike Jonze Double Movie Special**
10:50 pm Movie: Adaptation (From the US) **Spike Jonze Double Movie Special**

Sunday 20:
3:05 pm Balls Deep
3:35 pm VICE News Tonight
4:00 pm VICE News Tonight
4:30 pm VICE News Tonight
5:00 pm Dead Set on Life
5:25 pm VICE World of Sports
5:55 pm If You Are The One
7:05 pm VICELAND Presents: Cut-Off (Rpt)
8:00 pm South Park
8:30 pm States Of Undress
9:20 pm States Of Undress
10:10 pm Black Market
10:40 pm Black Market
11:05 pm Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
11:30 pm South Park

Monday 21:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm Cyberwar
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:05 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Travel Man
8:30 pm F*ck That’s Delicious
9:00 pm F*ck That’s Delicious
9:25 pm Dead Set on Life
9:55 pm Dead Set On Life
10:20 pm Movie: Safety Not Guaranteed (From the US)
11:55 pm VICE News Tonight

SBS Viceland will broadcast on Channel 32 on free-to-air and Channel 142 on Foxtel,.



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Nov 13 2016

Obituary: Bob Francis

bobfrancisFormer Adelaide radio and television broadcaster Bob Francis has died at the age of 77.

Born in Egypt, Francis came to Adelaide in 1947 and ten years later started in radio at 5DN.

While working at station 5AD, Francis was credited with leading the campaign to have The Beatles add Adelaide to their Australian tour in 1964.

Although he had a successful radio career spanning 57 years in Adelaide, including several years as the top-rating night-time “shock jock” on 5AA, Francis also had a career in television.

In the 1970s he guest hosted the local variety show Tonight With Barry Ion and for around 18 months hosted the Saturday night program Penthouse Club.

bobfrancisannewillsBased on the Melbourne show of the same name, Penthouse Club was live variety interspersed with coverage of Saturday night harness racing and the weekly lotto draw. The show was co-hosted by Anne Wills and Sandy Roberts.

Penthouse Club was popular with Adelaide viewers, with Francis, Wills and the show itself all collecting TV Week Logie Awards for South Australia in 1975.

Ironically, just after the Logies triumph, the show was suddenly cancelled.

Francis also appeared in local productions such as the SAS10 Christmas Appeal, and in 2005 featured in Made In Adelaide — a special documenting that station’s 40th anniversary.

He retired from broadcasting in 2013.

Bob Francis is survived by his wife Anna and two children.

Source: ABC. TV Radio Guide, 16 February 1974, 6 July 1974. TV Week, 22 March 1975.




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Nov 08 2016

Nine and SCA in regional news expansion

9_logo_2009_0002The Nine Network and Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) have confirmed plans to expand regional news coverage across Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT and Victoria.

The introduction of 15 regional news bulletins was agreed between Nine and SCA as part of their new programming affiliation agreement, effective from July this year, with Nine covering the necessary employee and capital expenditure costs.

Nine is employing more than 110 staff, to be based in Sydney, regional NSW, Brisbane, regional Queensland, Melbourne and regional Victoria to produce and put the bulletins to air.

The one-hour bulletins will be broadcast across the Southern Cross Nine outlets — the first to launch in Canberra in February, followed by Wollongong and then other regions at dates to be announced.


Former ABC News Breakfast presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon (pictured above right) will present the bulletin in Southern NSW and Canberra. Nine News Jo Hall (left) will front the bulletins to be broadcast in regional Victoria.

Samantha Heathwood, a former newsreader for WIN News in Queensland, will front the regional Queensland bulletins.

In a statement issued today, Grant Blackley, Chief Executive Officer of SCA, said: “We are committed to our local communities and this local news project is an investment in these local economies and local jobs. Nearly 80 dedicated news staff including journalists, camera operators and editors will be employed and located in 18 regional centres to bring the news to our regional viewers, with another 30 working on the bulletins in Nine’s metropolitan newsrooms.

“If there is breaking news in Cairns, in Orange or in Albury, National Nine News will be on the ground to cover it and our viewers in those communities will be able to rely on Nine News to bring them the best television coverage.”

Mike Dalton, Head of Nine News Regional, said: “This is a big win for regional Australia. The Nine News brand is synonymous with bringing viewers an unrivalled news service, with a proud history going back 60 years.

“For the first time, our brand will be extended into country areas, offering regional viewers the very best in news gathering and reporting. We can’t wait to start telling the stories that matter the most to people in the new regions into which we’ll be broadcasting.”

The expansion of regional news coverage by SCA and Nine presents a major rival to WIN, which provides local half-hour bulletins across most of its Network Ten outlets in Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. WIN News has recently shifted its local bulletins to 6pm, fitting between Ten Eyewitness News and The Project.

The new bulletins will also be in competition with Prime7 News, which covers selected regions in New South Wales and Victoria, and Seven Local News in regional Queensland.

Source: Nine Network


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Nov 08 2016

The Young Doctors turns 40

tvweek_131176The Young Doctors was destined to be one of Australia’s shortest lived serial dramas but in an ironic twist became the longest-running of its time..

Created by the Reg Watson for the Reg Grundy Organisation, The Young Doctors began as the story of five medical interns who had started at the fictional Alfred Memorial Hospital. Playing the five young doctors were John Dommett, John Walton, Tim Page, Peta Toppano and pop star turned actor Mark Holden (pictured). The hospital’s nursing staff were played by former model and weather girl Delvene Delaney (The Paul Hogan Show), Margaret Nelson, Joanne Samuel (Class Of ’74) and Cornelia Frances as the officious Sister Grace Scott.

Filling out the rest of the cast were Gwen Plumb as kiosk proprietor Ada Simmonds, Ugly Dave Gray, Lyn James, Vivienne Benson-Young, Chris King, Michael Beecher and Alfred Sandor.

The role of bar owner Bunny Howard marked English-born comedian Gray’s first serious acting role, starting on The Young Doctors fresh from the axed game show Celebrity Squares and having previously hosted variety shows In Melbourne Tonight and Ugly Dave Gray Tonight.

uglydavegrayiainfinlayAnother unusual signing for the series was that of journalist and former This Day Tonight host Iain Finlay (pictured, far right with Gray), making his acting debut, playing the part of resident ‘nasty’ Frank Curtis in the show’s initial 13-week run.

Grundy’s had been producing episodes of The Young Doctors for two months before the show made its debut as a one-hour episode on the Nine Network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on Monday, 8 November 1976. (Adelaide followed the next night)

“We follow their romances, conflicts and heartbreaks from the tension of the operating theatre to the relaxed atmosphere of the nearby disco and restaurant,” said a Nine Network spokesperson at the time of the show’s launch.

tvtimes_181178Nine had decided to run the Sydney-based The Young Doctors back-to-back with Melbourne-based The Sullivans, which launched the following week, over the summer months presumably to give both titles a run before deciding which would be renewed going into the 1977 season. Nine opted to put the axe to The Young Doctors before it reached the end of its 13-week contract. It was only once the show’s growing following was known that Nine decided to give the series a  last-minute reprieve. Nine’s change of heart turned out to be for the better — as both The Young Doctors and The Sullivans became key successes for the network.

Once the summer run was over, The Young Doctors settled into its regular timeslot leading in to the news with its saucy, lightweight soapie fare. Despite the hospital setting which included a casualty ward and operating theatre, there was not much actual medical drama to be seen, with much of the show’s storylines focused on the interactions between the staff and their domestic and social lives.

Award-winning writer Tony Morphett, whose previous credits included the ABC series Certain Women, was one of three scriptwriters to launch the show. “It’s technically interesting to write for a serial running five nights a week,” he told TV Times in 1976. “I’ve done numerous half-hour drama series, one-hour specials and serials, but this is a different ball game. This is a very commercial, well-laid format. If you look at the shows that have succeeded, they’re doctors and cop shows — simplifying good and evil. And with hospitals the normal turnover of patients is good reason to have characters coming and going… a natural flow… bit like a hotel.”


corneliafrances_0003For Cornelia Frances, the role of Sister Grace Scott (pictured) came after producers had been impressed by her portrayal of a bitchy character in a Grundy pilot called Two-Way Mirror — and the role of Sister Scott was to become one to define her career, although behind Sister Scott’s tough exterior there was some tragedy. Within the show’s first few months it was revealed that Sister Scott had been raped twice, once as a young nurse, and was left at the altar by a fleeing bridegroom. “It seems that every time she takes off her white uniform and gets dressed up, she either gets raped or left at the altar,” Frances told TV Times in 1977. She also defended her character’s gruff attitude. “Sister Scott is no bitch. She’s quite humane but is frightened to show warmth.”

One of the show’s most famous cliff-hangers was when Sister Scott accidentally stepped into an open lift shaft after giving a stern lecture to one of the young nurses. The character survived the accident with little more than a broken leg, but Frances was soon to leave the series after that storyline. She worked for Grundy’s again a few years later in Prisoner and Sons And Daughters and then took on the recurring role of Morag Bellingham in the long-running Seven Network series Home And Away.

tonyalvarez_0001Other cast members to come through Alfred Memorial Hospital over the years included Kim Wran, a weathergirl at TCN9 and daughter of NSW Premier Neville Wran, Karen Pini, Paula Duncan, Lynda Stoner, Tony Alvarez (pictured), Alan Dale, Bartholomew John, Eric Oldfield, John Hamblin, Noel Trevarthen, Judy McBurney, Diana McLean, Ros Wood, Judy Lynne, Joe Hasham, Abigail, Bunney Brooke, Mike Dorsey and Ron Shand.

theyoungdoctors_0002It was big news in June 1982 when The Young Doctors reached episode 1219 — breaking the record set by former hit series Number 96 for Australia’s longest running serial drama. But despite the record breaking milestone, The Young Doctors‘ days were soon numbered as long-serving cast members had made way for newer, fresher faces. Production wound up later in the year and the 1396th and final episode aired in March 1983 — coincidentally just weeks after The Sullivans had also wound up from its successful run.

It was left to Ada Simmonds to play The Young Doctors‘ final scene by shutting off the lights as she exited the now-closed Alfred Memorial for the last time.

tvweek_240181The Young Doctors continued in re-runs on Nine during the 1980s and found international success, particularly in the United Kingdom where it aired across the ITV network.

Nine’s replacement for The Young Doctors was also to have a medical theme. Starting Out, also from Grundy’s, focused on the lives of medical students at a Melbourne university. The series debuted a week after The Young Doctors finished but was short lived.

Plans to revive The Young Doctors for a 21st century audience were revealed from both the Nine and Ten networks in the late 2000s, but neither came to fruition.

Source: Aussie Soap Archive, Wikipedia, Super Aussie Soaps. TV Times, 6 November 1976, 5 February 1977, 18 November 1978.  TV Week, 13 November 1976, 24 January 1981. Scene, 16 September 1978.




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Nov 05 2016

TV At 60: Opening Night of ABC

abc_1956Today marks the 60th anniversary of the launch of ABC television.

ABC’s first station to go to air was ABN2 in Sydney, operating from studios and a temporary transmitter based at Gore Hill in Sydney. However, construction at Gore Hill was not completed in time for opening night — leading the ABC to utilise its orchestral studio in Kings Cross (connected to Gore Hill via the ABC’s new outside broadcast van) and a makeshift studio, the ‘Arcon’, which was a storage shed on the Gore Hill site.

ABN’s opening night, 5 November 1956, began with the customary test pattern, then just before 7.00pm James Dibble announced: “Stand by for the opening night of the national television service.”

YouTube: ABC Australia

A brief signature tune accompanied by a first glimpse of the animated ABC TV logo was followed by the appearance the host for the evening, Michael Charlton: “Hello and welcome, ladies and gentlemen and children. This emblem that you have just seen is tonight the symbol of an historic occasion: the opening of the national television service, which, of course, is your television service.”

Charlton’s introduction was significant as it was his father, Conrad Charlton, who was the first to announce the introduction of ABC radio in 1932.

The opening formalities at the Kings Cross studio continued for 45 minutes, with Charlton introducing guests including Prime Minister Robert Menzies, the Postmaster-General, Charles Davidson, Senator Nick McKenna representing the Leader of the Opposition, Dr H V Evatt, the BBC‘s Director General, Sir Ian Jacob, ABC Chairman Sir Richard Boyer and ABC’s General Manager, Charles Moses.


Prime Minister Menzies in his opening speech, said: “The technical skill of today is wonderful. I feel sure that Australian programs will be every bit as good and even better than overseas programs before we are many months older.”

Despite all the formality of the occasion, there was plenty to go wrong within that opening broadcast. The Age reported that during Sir Richard Boyer’s opening speech: “the camera kept switching from Sir Richard Boyer to the Prime Minister and Senator McKenna who were seated awaiting their turns to speak. The fierce arc lights caused Mr Menzies and Senator McKenna to sit with their eyes closed, and it appeared to viewers that they had gone to sleep.”

The Age also recalled: “The Postmaster-General, Mr Davidson, who also spoke, was unfortunately not photographed properly by the camera, and for a time only half of Mr Davidson was visible.”

After the opening speeches, Charlton invited viewers to enjoy a filmed performance by French violinist Christian Ferras. Viewers could see the violinist playing but there was no sound — as technicians could be heard asking, “Where’s the sound? What has happened here?”

Cue a quick change to Charlton back at Kings Cross, who admitted: “These are the things which go wrong on an opening night.”

Very little else seemed to go to plan — including at one point an oblivious Charlton being seen smoking a cigarette as a stage hand carried a table off the set. “You’ve caught us on the hop a bit,” he explained as he waited directions from the producer about what to do next.

Later in the evening it was over to the Arcon ‘studio’ for the play The Twelve Pound Look, starring Margo Lee, John Brunskill, Joan Lord and Alexander Archdale. The production was a very modest affair, coming from the very small temporary studio, but went ahead without a hitch.

Next up was an American comedy, My Hero, followed by the first episode of BBC series War In The Air.

Opening night for ABN2 came to a close with a 20-minute film, This Is The ABC. The 1955 documentary looked at various aspects of the ABC’s activities and program production, but it was all pre-television.

YouTube: NFSA Films

It was another two weeks before ABN2’s sister station in Melbourne, ABV2, was officially opened. The advent of ABV2 ensured that the ABC could provide coverage of the Melbourne Olympic Games, but with no direct link between the two cities Sydney viewers could only watch filmed highlights rushed up from Melbourne.

Michael Charlton went on to have a very successful career with ABC, including hosting the current affairs program Four Corners and winning a TV Week Gold Logie in 1963 for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.

James Dibble, who introduced the opening night broadcast, went on to read the news for ABC in Sydney for almost 30 years before retiring in 1983.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 6 November 1956. The Age, 6 November 1956. Australian TV: The First 25 Years, Thomas Nelson Australia/Cinema Papers, 1981. Aunty’s Jubilee: Celebrating 50 Years Of ABCTV, ABC Books, 2006. Those Fabulous TV Years, Cassell Australia, 1981. 50 Years Of Television In Australia, Hardie Grant Books, 2006. ABCTV At Gore Hill.



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Nov 04 2016

TV At 60: HSV7, First in Melbourne

hsv7_1956Melbourne’s first television station had its beginning in April 1955, when newspaper publisher The Herald And Weekly Times (HWT) was successful in gaining a licence to operate one of two commercial licences available for Melbourne.

By July, the company that was to be registered as Herald-Sun TV Pty Ltd (named after HWT’s two major newspapers) was allocated the Channel 7 frequency — hence the call-sign HSV7. (The ‘V’ stands for Victoria)

Production and office facilities were being installed in a converted newspaper warehouse in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. The plan was for two studios, with the building topped by a transmission mast which would serve a dual purpose, to not only receive signals from outside broadcasts but also to send the station’s output to the main transmission tower being built on Mount Dandenong.

The larger of the two studios would be equipped with three Marconi Mk III cameras, while the smaller studio would have two cameras and house the master control suite. Also within the premises were two announcers’ booths, a film library, a dark room (for photography work including a studio) and a film editing room. An art room, for the development of graphics materials for broadcast as well as the construction and decoration of sets, was also included.

The station had purchased an outside broadcast van from the UK. The van was equipped with a further three cameras plus a rooftop microwave link. This outside broadcast van would prove to be essential with the Melbourne Olympic Games coming up plus the potential for football coverage.

Keith Cairns, a former HWT executive who was to be appointed as HSV7’s first manager, went to the BBC and to and United States to research television. He spent several weeks at a local US TV station, WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio, to see just how a TV station worked in a market of comparable size to Melbourne.

Other executives, mostly plucked from the HWT stable, were also to make visits to the US and UK to research television and to purchase the station’s first programs.

The Government had set very modest limits on how much licencees could spend on importing programs, so HSV had formed an alliance with Frank Packer‘s Consolidated Press in Sydney, the licencee of Sydney’s new TCN9, to pool together their collective budgets to secure overseas shows for their Melbourne and Sydney channels. The newspaper owners of HSV and TCN also had existing ties with the Walt Disney company to publish comics in their newspapers, so this led to Disney programs such as Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club being picked up by HSV7 and TCN9.

The partnership between the two channels also meant HSV7 would represent TCN9 in a sales capacity in Melbourne, while TCN would reciprocate in Sydney.


By February 1956 it was expected that completion of the 100 metre-high transmission tower on Mount Dandenong was only a month away, with plans to begin test transmissions by mid-year. It was to be July before the first pictures were transmitted from HSV7, only three days after TCN9 had begun doing the same in Sydney.

HSV7’s test transmissions, which largely comprised only a test pattern (pictured above) and music with the occasional short film, would continue for two hours a day — enabling TV retailers to have working sets on display and for technicians to be able to install sets in homes.

Initial reports from the first test transmissions indicated that even at low power a clear signal could be received from Geelong and from as far away as Ballarat and Traralgon. This was despite earlier concerns that the potential for widespread reception would be limited.

With HSV7’s opening night approaching the next step was the appointment of talent. The new station had managed to secure the services of Danny Webb and Eric Pearce, both from HSV’s sister radio station 3DB. A young radio announcer by the name of Bert Newton, then on 3XY, had also auditioned for a role at the channel. He passed the audition, only to be informed that with Pearce and Webb now on board that the station did not have the budget for a third male “star” and asked him to ‘wait’ for his TV debut.


HSV7 had also signed up Melbourne actress Mary Parker (pictured above on the cover of The Listener In-TV) for announcing and some presenting duties. Parker was based in London at the time, having done some work on BBC television, and was returning to Australia for her new role.

Meanwhile, as Seven was getting ready to launch, expectant viewers unfamiliar with the world of television were seeking answers about the new medium. The Listener In-TV ran a ‘TV Service Bureau’ to field questions from nervous future viewers: “Are battery operated sets available in Australia?”, “What is Automatic Focusing?”, “Which control deals with the steadiness of the picture?”, “Does a tin roof affect TV reception?”, “Why are there so many types of aerials?”, “Can I paint my TV aerial?” and many others.

HSV7’s star line-up: Mary Parker, Eric Pearce, Bernadette Russell, Danny Webb and Judy Jack. (Picture: Listener In-TV)

After months of anticipation and planning, opening night finally arrived on Sunday, 4 November 1956. The test pattern faded from screen at about three minutes to 7.00pm with a short “lead up” to the official formalities and introduction from Pearce. From then there were two short pre-recorded speeches from Prime Minister Robert Menzies and State Opposition Leader John Cain (senior). Both were unable to be at the opening night but wished the new channel all the success.

Appearing live from the HSV7 studio in Dorcas Street were Melbourne Lord Mayor Sir Frank Selleck and the Federal Minister for Labour and National Service, Harold Holt, with Victorian Premier Henry Bolte declaring the station officially open.

Pearce, as the master of ceremonies, gave a brief dedication at the end of the formalities: “We dedicate this station to the full service of the community. To Australian life — the happy families in the homes — we promise to serve you faithfully and well.”


Once the opening formalities were out of the way the first program was a 45-minute variety show broadcast live from Melbourne’s Tivoli Theatre, featuring Darryl Stewart, Gordon Chater, Barry Humphries, English actor Richard Hearne, American puppeteer Bob Bromley plus the Tivoli ballet and orchestra. The show largely went by without a hitch, although a brief break in the link between Dorcas Street and the outside broadcast van at the Tivoli had viewers staring at a slide for a short while assuring them that their sets weren’t faulty.

The Tivoli special was followed by English series Robin Hood, then Pearce was back on screen to host the debut of game show I’ve Got A Secret, featuring former VFL star Jack Dyer, cartoonist John Frith, announcer Shirley Cecil and university lecturer Olivia Wykes with special overseas guest star, 1956 Miss Hollywood, Jean Moorhead.

Next up was Eve Arden in the American sitcom Our Miss Brooks followed by a half-hour compilation of filmed news stories from overseas sources. TV Window followed, presenting a 15-minute preview of upcoming shows plus some behind-the-scenes from opening night.

Pearce was back again at 10.15pm with Seven’s first news bulletin and Parker presented the weather before the station signed off for the night by 10.30pm.

The next day Seven launched its daily children’s show The Judy Jack Show, while Webb and Parker presented news and weather at 7.00pm and again at 10.00pm. Radio racecaller Bill Collins also made his TV debut hosting a 15-minute preview of the next day’s Melbourne Cup.

Overseas shows launched through the week included The Patti Page Show, Hopalong Cassidy, Father Knows Best, The Three Musketeers, Rin Tin Tin, San Francisco Beat, Kraft Television Theatre, Big Town, Annie Oakley, Jet Jackson, Jungle Jim and Douglas Fairbanks Presents.

Local shows to debut during the first week included quiz show Stop The Music with 3DB’s John Eden, pop music show Hit Parade, talent quest Stairway To The Stars, Sports Talk with Bill Collins and Harry Gordon, interview show Eric And Mary (you guessed, Eric Pearce and Mary Parker) and children’s show Peters Fun Fair with Zig and Zag.

hsv7_openingnight_0004The first week was capped off by the launch of a new studio-based show, Wedding Day. The first television venture to come from radio producer Hector Crawford, Wedding Day was almost reality TV, 1956-style. The show, screening on Saturday nights, would feature a couple married earlier that day, with the show opening with film of the wedding ceremony. The happy couple would then be brought in to the studio that evening and welcomed by the show’s hosts, 3DB announcer John Stuart and actor Carl Bleazby.

The couple would be interviewed and then presented with gifts — household items such as a steam iron and a lawnmower and more practical gifts such as clothing and blankets.

The newlyweds then get to cut a wedding cake and are given the chance to win a grand prize — something more lavish like a wristwatch, knitting machine, washing machine or a tea and coffee set — but they can only win the prize by identifying a mystery item from part of a magnified picture.

Wedding Day was not just a celebration of a newlywed couple but also of those celebrating a significant anniversary. The first episode featured a couple from Ivanhoe who had just celebrated their ruby wedding — 40 years of marriage.

Seven’s launch in November was just a few weeks before the Melbourne Olympic Games — with HSV utilising its outside broadcast van and a mere three cameras to provide as much as eight hours of live coverage during the day and a few hours each night, even though Olympic organisers would sometimes not confirm what events could be telecast until the morning of competition.

Covering the Olympics was to be a huge logistical exercise not just for HSV7 but also for its two new rivals, ABV2 and GTV9, also providing similar coverage with only basic levels of TV production knowledge and equipment.


Production at HSV7 was soon expanded to new variety shows Sunnyside Up and The Late Show — the latter initially hosted by Noel Ferrier before making way for Bert Newton.

erniesigley_teenageErnie Sigley (pictured), Gaynor Bunning and Heather Horwood performed on Teenage Mailbag, and Ron Casey hosted World Of Sport, initially on Saturday mornings before it became a Sunday afternoon tradition in Melbourne for almost 30 years.

Seven joined the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal in 1957 with two 15-minute segments during the afternoon and a half-hour in the evening. The station’s contribution to the Appeal expanded in 1960 with the first all-day telethon.

HSV7’s long tradition of VFL (later AFL) coverage started in April 1957 with the custom of live coverage of the last quarter of a selected match on Saturday afternoon. It was a concept also adopted by ABV2 and GTV9 until years later when HSV7 would emerge as the major broadcaster of the league — a role it maintains today having missed only the 1987 and 2002 to 2006 seasons due to rights going to other broadcasters.

HSV7 would go on to operate from its modest studio complex in Dorcas Street for decades to come, but by 1960 it was already apparent that the Dorcas Street studios were not going to keep up with demand. The station soon bought the former Regent Theatre in Fitzroy and converted it into a television studio — based on the concept of the Ziegfeld theatre in New York which hosted The Perry Como Show.

The HSV7 Teletheatre, with capacity for a studio audience of 600, opened in April 1961 and continued to host various productions for the station through to the 1970s.

Source: Broadcasting And Television, 15 July 1955, 4 November 1955, 27 January 1956, 24 February 1956. The Age, 19 July 1956, 26 July 1956, 16 August 1956, 18 April 1957. The Listener In-TV, 15 September 1956, 22 September 1956, 27 October 1956, 3 November 1956, 10 November 1956. The Sun, 17 July 1956, 3 November 1956, 5 November 1956. The Herald, 3 November 1956. 50 Years Of Television In Australia, Hardie Grant Books, 2006.






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Oct 23 2016

1996: October 5-11

tvweek_051096Cover: Emily Symons (Home And Away)

Alf’s life on the line
Home And Away‘s Alf Stewart’s (Ray Meagher) life hangs in the balance in episodes going to air this week. The recent earthquake that hit Summer Bay triggered a heart attack in Alf, leading to heart bypass surgery by cardiac specialist Dr James McClaren (Grant Dodwell). The rather smug Dr McClaren, pleased with the surgery, takes off for a round of golf, leaving resident GP Dr Kelly Watson (Katrina Hobbs) to monitor Alf’s post-operation recovery. But when Alf’s blood pressure plummets, the young Dr Watson is left to perform emergency surgery, which doesn’t go well. “(Dr Watson) had to go in and try and fix the (heart) valve and she nearly stuffed it up entirely,” Meagher told TV Week.

‘I saw someone die on the operating table’
nicholaseadie_0002Nicholas Eadie (pictured), who plays Dr Red Buchanan in the new Network Ten series Medivac, did not anticipate the emotional impact that researching the role entailed. Eadie spent 20 hours in the emergency department at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital to observe medical procedures and patient behaviour. “For people who arrive at the emergency ward, it’s often a case of needing immediate surgery, sometimes in life or death situations,” he told TV Week. “I saw someone die on the operating table — a motor accident victim. Seeing that sort of thing is very difficult to process in your head. I came away having incredible respect for people who work in that situation.”

eddiemcguire_0004Now it’s Gridiron Eddie…
The Nine Network‘s Eddie McGuire (pictured) has just added another role to his growing media profile. As well as hosting The Footy Show in Melbourne, presenting sport on Nightline and his regular radio commitments, McGuire is now hosting Nine’s weekly coverage of the American National Football League (NFL). McGuire has recently been involved in contract renewal negotiations with Nine but it is no secret that rival network Seven has tried to poach him. He is also amused at some of the media attention relating to his pay packet. “One paper called me, ‘The million dollar man’, while another journalist said I was making $1.6 million. There have been some wild and woolly figures published,” he told TV Week.


  • Mark Mitchell (The Comedy Company, Lift Off) and Jeremy Callaghan (Police Rescue, Water Rats) are to feature in a US telemovie, A Munster’s Scary Little Christmas, being produced in Sydney.
  • Oscar-winning designed Lizzy Gardiner is working on a documentary called The Dream Factory for ABC.
  • Film reviewer Peter Castaldi is to host a new movie review show, Mosaic, for pay-TV operator Optus Vision.
  • Production has begun on the Gold Coast on a new four-hour mini-series of the classic tale 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The series, for America’s ABC network, will air on Nine in Australia and features local actors Bryan Brown, Kerry Armstrong and John Bach in supporting roles.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 15 September 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2180000
2 This Is Your Life Nine Thu 2058000
3 Who Dares Wins Seven Wed 1993000
4 Getaway Nine Thu 1932000
5 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1879000
6 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1872000
7 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1825000
8 AFL: Second Preliminary Final Seven Sat 1820000
9 Friends Seven Mon 1818000
10 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1798000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, October 5-11):
Bathurst Top 10 (3pm, Seven) features the qualifying round for pole positions for Sunday’s Bathurst 1000. In Ocean Girl (5.30pm, Ten), the search for the synchronium seems to be about the only thing on Neri’s (Marzena Godecki) mind.

Sunday: The Bathurst 1000 (8am, Seven) presents ten hours of live coverage of the legendary motor race from Mount Panorama, Bathurst, hosted by Garry Wilkinson. Sunday night movies are The Three Musketeers (Seven), Buffalo Girls (Nine) and Mr Jones (Ten).

Monday: In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Luke (Steve Harman) discovers he has a half sister who warns him that their father is a dangerous man.

Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Mal (Benjie McNair) is stunned to see Melissa (Aimee Robertson) in an expensive car with another man. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), Adam (Damian Walshe-Howling) and Dash (Tasma Walton) damage the police station computer while playing an illegal game, while PJ (Martin Sacks) and Maggie (Lisa McCune) try to solve a puzzling series of break-ins.’

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Debbie (Marnie Reece-Wilmore) realises the enormity of what she did to Danni’s (Eliza Szonert) clothing business.

Thursday: Getaway (7.30pm, Nine) features Rebecca Harris‘ visit to the Pajinka Wilderness Lodge at Cape York Peninsula, Jeff Watson‘s guided tour of Helsinki, and Lochie Daddo visiting the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Jennifer Keyte hosts highlights of the Melbourne Festival (10.30pm, Nine), featuring interviews with Dudley Moore, Marianne Faithful, festival artistic director Leo Schofield and Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

Friday: In Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC), a light plane and its crew have been missing for days. After a fall during the search, Angel (Steve Bastoni) finds the crew and spends the night with them. In Pacific Drive (11pm, Nine), Luke (Steve Harman) allows himself to be misled by his father, and tragedy strikes in Joel’s (Adrian Lee) nightclub.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 5 October 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.

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Oct 23 2016

1996: September 28-October 4

tvweek_280996Cover: Catriona Rowntree (Getaway) and Tania Zaetta (Who Dares Wins)

Tony’s above par
The Seven Network‘s decision to dump John Burgess as host of Wheel Of Fortune after 12 years in the role was met with widespread disapproval. Viewers were unhappy with the signing of Tony Barber to the hosting role as well as other changes being made to the long-running format when production shifted from Adelaide to Sydney. But co-host Adriana Xenides, who was speculated to have been just as devastated by the changes, has defended Barber’s appointment. “Tony is a delight to work with,” she told TV Week. “From our first on-air association I knew I was in a true partnership. I have been privileged that in my 15 years in the television industry I have had the good fortune to work with some of the finest Australian talent. The new environment on Wheel is neither a chore nor a challenge, because I adjust well to new situations.” Barber, a game show veteran with a CV that includes Great Temptation, Name That Tune, Family Feud, Sale Of The Century and Jeopardy, admits he has been hurt by some of the criticism surrounding his appointment but accepts that viewers do take these changes to heart. “I’m not really surprised how bitter some letters have been,” he told TV Week. “TV is a large part of their life. Wheel is their show and they’ve been tuning in for 15 years. They have every right to voice their opinion. I just hope that in the fullness of time viewers give the show a fair go.”

rosshiggins_0001Not the Kingswood!
Ted Bullpitt is coming back to TV. Producers Gary Reilly and Tony Sattler, the creators of Kingswood Country, are set to revive the character played by Ross Higgins (pictured) for a new series titled Bullpitt! “He’s still cranky after all these years,” Reilly told TV Week. “It’s Kingswood Country 20 years on. Ted now lives in a retirement home, and basically that’s it.” Kingswood Country made its debut in January 1980, featuring Higgins, Judi Farr, Peter Fisher, Lex Marinos and Laurel McGowan. “Because the original Kingswood Country has been repeated on Seven, a whole new generation has found the show,” Reilly said. A pilot for Bullpitt is to go into production next month and if successful will go into a series next year.

Persistence pays off for new Saturday Disney host
saturdaydisneyA week of voluntary work experience at Seven Network‘s Brisbane studios has paid off for Shelley Iliff (pictured far right). The 20-year-old has just been announced as a new host on Seven’s Saturday Disney. After her week of work experience, Iliff scored a job as a production assistant at Seven before a vacancy came up at Saturday Disney with Jeniene Mapp leaving the show. “I think they were just looking for a fresh new person who had never done anything, which was me!,” Iliff told TV Week. She now joins Lisa Barry and Marc Buhaj on the long-running program.


  • Tara Brown (A Current Affair), Gina Boon, Jennifer Keyte and Tracy Grimshaw are believed to be among the contenders for the co-hosting role on Nine‘s Today, following the decision by Liz Hayes to join 60 Minutes.
  • Filming has started on the pilot for the new Seven Network drama Trackers. Set in the Australian Customs Service, it stars Aaron Pedersen, Christine Harris, Geoff Paine, Andy Anderson, Sarah Chadwick and newcomers Berynn Schwerdt and Ling-Hsueh Tang.
  • darrinklimekPacific Drive star Darrin Klimek (pictured) made a pilot for a music show four years ago, but when it didn’t go ahead he instead pursued an acting career. However, Foxtel has now signed up the 25-year-old to host The NewMusic, focusing on emerging music talent both from Australia and overseas. The NewMusic is also expected to feature contributions by Molly Meldrum. Despite having the new show, Klimek will continue his commitments with Pacific Drive. “Foxtel has been nice in that they are going to work around Pacific Drive,” he told TV Week.
  • American actor Gary Coleman, recently in Australia to appear on Nine‘s 40 years of television celebrations, apparently had hoped to achieve a private ambition to be a TV cop. The former Diff’rent Strokes star had contacted the producers of Water Rats to ask if they could write in a cameo role for him. Producers met with the actor but diplomatically declined his request.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 8 September 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2284000
2 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1950000
3 This Is Your Life Nine Thu 1908000
4 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1904000
5 Friends Seven Mon 1869000
6 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1832000
7 Great Aussie Bloopers Seven Wed 1821000
8 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1767000
9 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1753000
10 Who Dares Wins Seven Wed 1733000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 28-October 4):
The AFL Grand Final coverage continues from the overnight Football Marathon, with the Grand Final Breakfast (8am, Seven), the VSFL Under 18s Grand Final (9am, Seven), the Reserves Grand Final (11am, Seven) and then the big game — North Melbourne versus Sydney Swans — live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (2pm, Seven). Gladiators (6.30pm, Seven) begins its Ashes competition, featuring Australia versus the UK, hosted by Mike Hammond and UK host Ulrika Jonsson.

Sunday: The Sunday Footy Show (12pm, Nine) presents its last show for the year, followed by the NSW Rugby League Grand Final (1pm, Nine), featuring Manly Sea Eagles versus St George Dragons, live from Sydney Football Stadium. In Talk To The Animals (6.30pm, Seven), Jane Holmes joins whale watchers at Cape Byron, NSW, while Dr Harry Cooper takes to the road with the RSPCA rescue centre. Sunday night movies are The Indecent Favour (Seven), Lightning Jack (Nine) and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (Ten).

Monday: Children’s shows Time Masters (4pm, Seven) and Ship To Shore (4pm, Nine) return with new series. In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Helen (Anne Haddy) returns home, while the rest of Ramsay Street tries to come to terms with the shock of Cheryl’s (Caroline Gillmer) death. Harry Connick Jnr and Chris Isaak host the 10th Annual ARIA Awards (8.30pm, Ten), live from the Sydney Convention Centre. Talking Footy (11.05pm, Seven) presents its last show of the year.

Tuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Rebecca (Belinda Emmett) disturbs an intruder and finds a knife on the floor. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Vesna (Lenka Krpac) has to deal with a friend’s suicide and questions where her life is heading. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), PJ (Martin Sacks) returns and faces immediate drama when he takes a call from a three-year-old whose mother won’t wake up; and Maggie (Lisa McCune) decides to give up her uni course.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), when a lease problem arises, Angie (Lesley Baker) fears for the coffee shop’s future. In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Tim (Darrin Klimek) and Zoe (Libby Tanner) throw a party to announce their engagement.

Thursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), the actual cause of Cheryl’s (Caroline Gillmer) death is determined and Susan’s (Jackie Woodburne) worst fears are confirmed.

Friday: In Emergency 000 (8pm, Seven), a smoke-filled office building is evacuated and paramedics tackle frustrating peak-hour traffic. In Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC), Joe (Salvatore Coco) becomes involved with a woman he rescues from the top of a building. In Pacific Drive (10.55pm, Nine), Tim (Darrin Klimek) and Zoe’s (Libby Tanner) marriage plans come under scrutiny from the immigration department.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 28 September 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.


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Oct 20 2016

1996: September 21-27

Aussie screen successes are a window to the world
tvweek_210996Getaway reporter Lochie Daddo has got so used to reporting on his travels that a recent holiday to the NSW ski fields left him a bit disoriented. “It was weird. I kept looking for a camera to have to do something to,” he told TV Week. “It was like, ‘Where’s my 7am wake-up call to tell me to be downstairs in the foyer, ready to head off?’.” While the younger Daddo (older brother Cameron is in the US starring in the new series F/X) has had some acting experience, including Neighbours and GP and on stage, and hosted programs such as Countdown Revolution and Saturday At Rick’s, at this point he is more than happy to continue as a globetrotting reporter for Getaway. “At 26, to be able to travel the world and see all these amazing things… well, you couldn’t ask for a better job.” Meanwhile, Nine‘s newest star, former model Kate Fischer, is working hard with an increasingly busy schedule. As well as hosting cartoon show What’s Up Doc, she is also currently taping a new series of Time Out For Serious Fun for Nine and makes guest appearances on ABC‘s Good News Week.

raeleehill_0002The Rat Pack’s back!
Some cast changes are coming to Water Rats as it begins production on its second series. By the end of series one, viewers had farewelled four cast members — Bill Young, Jeremy Callaghan, Andrew Gilbert and, in dramatic scenes in the series finale, Peter Mochrie. Returning for series two are Colin Friels, Catherine McClements, Jay Laga’aia, Sophie Heathcote, Brett Partridge, Scott Burgess, Peter Bensley and Toni Scanlan. Joining the cast line-up now is Raelee Hill (pictured), formerly of Paradise Beach and Neighbours and currently appearing in Foxtel‘s Shark Bay. Also joining the series in guest roles are Paul Mercurio and Kym Wilson.

elizaszonertbernardcurryIt’s goodbye from Eliza
After two years playing the part of Danni Stark in Neighbours, Eliza Szonert (pictured with co-star Bernard Curry) has bid farewell to the show. “It was all a bit much. I had a lump in my throat and I thought I was going to cry,” she told TV Week after her last day. “But for once, I didn’t. I’m sad I’m going, but it’s time to move on. It’s the end of a chapter and I’m looking forward to the start of a new one.” Szonert’s exit, to go to air in November, sees her character Danni go to Malaysia to work for a fashion company.

johnburgessadrianaxenides_0002It’s only a game!
As part of the celebration of 40 years of television, TV Week looks at one of Australia’s favourite TV genres — game shows. Since Name That Tune started on TCN9 in September 1956, Australians have loved watching others getting quizzed — whether it be naming a tune, guessing a word or phrase, answering questions of general knowledge, finding a romantic partner or filling the blank! Shows like Pick A Box, Great Temptation (later Sale Of The Century), Wheel Of Fortune (former host John Burgess with co-host Adriana Xenides, pictured), The Price Is Right, Perfect Match and Blankety Blanks have been firm favourites with viewers. Some of the other titles that viewers may recall include Almost Anything Goes, Celebrity Tattletales, Personality Squares, Coles £3000 (later $6000) Question, Superquiz, Family Feud, The Main Event and Strike It Lucky.


  • The future of Nine‘s Pacific Drive now looks to be in doubt since co-producer New World was taken over by Twentieth Century Fox, and has withdrawn from the production. Village Roadshow, which partnered with New World for the series, is now frantically looking for a new partner.
  • The Seven Network is reported to be producing a new series featuring Barry Humphries. Barry Humphries Flashbacks is set to be an irreverent look at the past four decades of Australia’s history.
  • Foxtel has completed production of its first week of Beauty And The Beast. The line-up of beauties from the first five episodes includes Lisa Wilkinson, Maureen Duval, Anne Wills, Melissa Hoyer, Freda Leslie (a veteran of past BATB series), Georgie Parker, Jeanne Little and Rose Porteous. Beauty And The Beast begins on the Fox Talk channel in early October.
  • Former Seven Network sitcom Hey Dad! is beginning in re-runs this week… on Network Ten in an early afternoon timeslot.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 1 September 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2213000
2 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 2045000
3 This Is Your Life Nine Thu 2040000
4 Very Best Of The World’s Worst Driver #3 Nine Mon 2007000
5 Terrible Twisters Nine Mon 1977000
6 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1945000
7 Great Aussie Bloopers Seven Wed 1859000
8 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1852000
9 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1834000
10 Getaway Nine Thu 1815000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 21-27):
A one-hour special, Marn Grook (2pm, Seven) presents an Aboriginal perspective on Australian Rules football. The final of the Army versus Navy Challenge in Gladiators (3pm, Seven) is relegated to an afternoon timeslot to make way for Saturday Night Football, with highlights of the First Preliminary Final from Melbourne (6pm, Seven), followed by live coverage of the Second Preliminary Final from Sydney (7.30pm, Seven).

Sunday: The VFL Grand Final (2pm, ABC) is broadcast live. In Talk To The Animals (6.30pm, Seven), Sallianne Deckert travels to Alice Springs for the Camel Cup. Sunday night movies are Blue Sky (Seven), The Fugitive (repeat, Nine) and The Concierge (Ten).

kateraison_0001Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Toadie’s (Ryan Moloney) disappointment over leaving Erinsborough High grows. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Tonia Todman designs and makes bird boxes, Jim Brown visits the historic town of Robe, and Iain Hewitson makes delicious breads from one recipe. The Brownlow Medal Count (8.30pm, Seven) is broadcast live from the World Congress Centre, Melbourne. In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Georgina (Kate Raison, pictured) suspects Martin (Joss McWilliam) is seeing another woman.

Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Helen (Anne Haddy) is bored with hospital life. In the new series Wildfish (8pm, SBS), host Peter Morse is joined by Rob Sitch (Frontline) for fly fishing in the streams of New Zealand’s southern alps. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), Dash (Tasma Walton) and Maggie (Lisa McCune) can’t escape Johnny Kowalski’s (Jack Finsterer) womanising ways. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Maureen’s (Melissa Jaffer) favourite medical student, about to sit her final exam, is forced to admit that medicine is not for her after all.

bananasinpyjamas_0001Wednesday: Children’s series Bananas In Pyjamas (3.55pm, ABC) returns with more fun from B1 and B2 (pictured) and friends, with some help from narrator Karina Kelly. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon (Isla Fisher) and Geoff (Martin Henderson) decide to try and live out their whole relationship in the one day. Noni Hazlehurst narrates the documentary The Edge Of Instinct (8.30pm, ABC), following the emotional journey of couples going through IVF.

Thursday: Science program Quantum (8pm, ABC) explores the arguments for and against mass vaccination campaigns for children, and asks why Australia is not adopting the safer polio and whooping cough vaccines about to be used in the US. The Footy Show (9pm, Nine) presents its lavish Grand Final edition.

Friday: The series final of children’s game show A*Mazing (4pm, Seven). In Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC), Mickey (Gary Sweet) is forced to realise he is not invincible after the dangerous rescue of Nobby (John Flaus), a rock fisherman. With the AFL Grand Final tomorrow, That Was The Season That Was (8.30pm, Seven) with Bruce McAvaney takes a look back at the AFL Centenary season of 1996. The annual Grand Final Eve Football Marathon (11.40pm, Seven) continues overnight, featuring highlights of some of the most memorable matches of all time.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 21 September 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.


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Oct 19 2016

1996: September 14-20

tvweek_140996Hello, Sailor!
Martin Henderson (pictured with Isla Fisher) sails into Home And Away as Sub-Lieutenant Geoff Thomas, on board a Royal Australian Navy patrol boat cruising the waters near Summer Bay in search of an errant World War II mine. It’s not long before the sailor sets eyes on Shannon (Fisher) and recognises her from her book. They’re soon spending more time with each other before falling in love. “It’s all quite sweet really,” Henderson told TV Week. “He enjoys her company. She’s a lovely, intelligent, fun-loving, pretty young woman.” But like any soapie romance, things are not what they seem, as a dark secret is about to be revealed.

lisaforrest_0001Lisa’s golden opportunity
Most elite sporting identities go on to media roles such as television commentary after retirement — but former champion swimmer Lisa Forrest took a different path. She began studying acting, both in Australia and overseas, followed by presenting stints on Everybody, Midday and on Sydney radio, but still could not get that big acting break. “I couldn’t even get an audition because people were going, ‘Oh, she’s a swimmer’,” Forrest told TV Week. Her luck has since changed and she is now starring in Network Ten‘s new medical drama Medivac, playing the part of intern Dr Marina Zamoyski.

New kid on the block, again
Former Heartbreak High star Sal Coco this week makes his debut as rookie Joseph Antonio Cardillo in the series return of Police Rescue. For Coco, joining the cast of a well-established drama was a challenge. “It was like arriving at a new school when all the relationships were already established,” he told TV Week. “I had to start all over again and earn their respect. I learned so much from the crew and so much from the cast.” This week’s return of Police Rescue marks the beginning of the show’s fifth and final series, though Coco is confident his new role marks a new phase in his career. “I’ve just landed a part in my first film. It is called Heaven’s Burning and is written by Louis Nowra (Cosi). When you have someone like him writing, well I just knew I wanted to be in it.”

richardroxburghRyan’s last stand
Logie Award-winning actor Richard Roxburgh (pictured) has scored the lead role in an upcoming telemovie about the life of Ronald Ryan, the last man to be hanged in Australia. The Last Of The Ryans is a joint venture between the Nine Network and Crawfords Australia and goes into production in Melbourne in November. Nine is tipped to air the telemovie early in 1997, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Ryan’s death.


  • Production is due to begin this week on Foxtel‘s new panel show, a revival of Beauty And The Beast. Sydney radio man Stan Zemanek is the show’s “beast”, while the cast of beauties so far includes Rose Hancock, Lisa Wilkinson, Kate Fischer and Jo Bailey. Beauty And The Beast is to screen on the Fox Talk channel.
  • Aaron Pedersen, starring in Seven‘s new telemovie The Territorians, is tipped to join the cast of Trackers, a new drama pilot to go into production for Seven.
  • georgieparkergordonpiperSeven‘s Where Are They Now? has featured a reunion of cast members of A Country Practice, the series which ran for 12 years on both Seven and Ten networks. Gordon Piper and Georgie Parker (pictured) were also joined by Brian Wenzel, Syd Heylen and Grant Dodwell.
  • Former child star Gary Coleman, best known as Arnold in the US sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, is currently in Australia to appear on Sale Of The Century‘s 40 Years Of Television Celebrity Challenge.
  • Anthony Grundy, currently a third-year drama student at Queensland’s University of Technology and now starring in Medivac, has a familiar surname. His father is a cousin of legendary television producer Reg Grundy.  “It’s funny to have someone like that in your family. I’ve never met him, but I’ve heard plenty of family stories,” he told TV Week.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 25 August 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2234000
2 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2062000
3 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 2009000
4 The X FIles Ten Wed 1887000
5 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1881000
6 Getaway Nine Thu 1838000
7 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1828000
8 The Nanny Ten Sun 1804000
9 National Nine News Nine M-F 1801000
10 National Nine News Nine Sun 1783000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 14-20):
Beyond 2000 (2.30pm, Ten) reports on a car that drives on both land and water. Gladiators (7.30pm, Seven) features the second heat in the Army versus Navy Challenge.

Sunday: In Talk To The Animals (6.30pm, Seven), Jane Holmes watches dogs strut their stuff on the catwalk, and Kelly Pommeroy goes on the rounds with a horse vet. Sunday night movies are Tina — What’s Love Got To Do With It (Seven), Last Action Hero (Nine) and Far And Away (Ten).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Rebecca (Belinda Emmett) begrudgingly begins to accept Marilyn (Emily Symons). Sale Of The Century (7pm, Nine) begins its 40 years of television celebrity challenge. The two-hour special 40 Years Of Television — The Reel History (8.30pm, Nine) takes a lot at Australia’s television history and the trends that have shaped our viewing habits, with segments presented by Ray Martin, Paul Cronin, Elizabeth Hayes, Jo Beth Taylor and special guest Henry Winkler.

Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Stonie (Anthony Engelman) has returned from his visit to Tasmania with a surprise for Angie (Lesley Baker); while Malcolm (Benjie McNair) finds it difficult to maintain his relationship with Shona (Bryony Price). In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Henry (Steve Bisley) is forced to question everything he believes in when his medical lecturer from university comes to him with an undiagnosed brain tumour.

mikewhitneyjuliamorrisWednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Steven (Adam Willits) pushes Travis (Nic Testoni) too far. Action game show Who Dares Wins (7.30pm, Seven) features a celebrity special, with six Seven Network personalities (including Full Frontal‘s Julia Morris, pictured with host Mike Whitney) taking part in some of the show’s trickiest dares. In Medivac (9.30pm, Ten), Arch (Grant Bowler) is at the centre of a drunken brawl and must then return to the hospital to treat one of the injured.

Thursday: Getaway (7.30pm, Nine) presents a special episode covering Great Britain, including a campervan tour of Wales, touring the Scottish Highlands by train, cycling through the Cotswold region, and taking a working holiday in England.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Fisher (Norman Coburn) is mysteriously poisoned and collapses in the diner. Don Lane hosts the special 40 Years Of Television — Then And Now (8.30pm, Nine), taking a look at some of the big TV stars of yesteryear and finding out where they are now. In the series return of Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC), three rookies are vying for two places in the squad, and all are thrown in at the deep end in a dramatic rescue.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 14 September 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.



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